Corona Virus – A Wake up Call?

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    Material prosperity has dictated our value system right across the globe. Comfort, pleasure, achievement and wealth alone are the yardsticks by which the world measures ‘success.’ In the contemporary world they have become the highest goals that man could aspire to. Today this has largely become the accepted worldview.

    Admittedly, questions about the truth of this global concept has been echoing through countless minds for quite a long while in different pockets of the world. But to find an answer, we needed to first awaken from a deep, mass slumber…for, even though the dysfunctional realities of our lives have been staring in our faces for long, we have continued to ‘sleepwalk’ through life. The chaos and turmoil in today’s world—be it societal, environmental, or in the ego-driven, authoritative regimes of the world—all point to the fact that we are surely treading a path toward doom and destruction and yet we refuse to wake up. Generations of human conditioning have caused us a loss of memory…a kind of amnesia, and we have developed habits that have dimmed our inner light.

    We live in a physical dimension and our awareness is mostly limited to only the material world. And here, our egos rule—with iron hands. And to keep itself alive and kicking it demands more of everything. And we are at its service, lifelong, for our very identity is tied to it. For most people, loss of that identity would be akin to death—not realising, of course, that the biggest hurdle to knowing the Truth about ourselves and the world around us is this pseudo identity that we carry around gleefully—because we’ve been responding to life from our conditioned minds rather than from our inner intelligence.

    But then, who is aware of our inner intelligence, or our true self?

    Fortunately, we cannot undermine the human that we are forever. For, as long as we keep doing that, we are misleading ourselves and denying us an awareness of our own humanity. We cannot be so callous about ourselves forever; we cannot forever be ruled by our mind and ego that hold us hostage by keeping us bound to divisiveness and hostility, self-indulgence and decadence, depravity on one hand and excesses on the other.

    These unrestrained behaviours and attitudes have wrought havoc not only to our societies but also to life on the planet, to our environment and eco-system.

    Take a closer look.

    In human societies across the world, what we see is disharmony everywhere, disparity and suffering wherever we look…be it politics, our economy, even the divisiveness and conflicts in our mainstream religions and our belief systems, not to mention struggles in our personal lives. In the name of religion, we have witnessed such acts of brutality to fellow humans. Organised religions that were meant to bring us closer to the divinity within our own selves have become hideously corrosive. Violence seems everywhere…and, to top it all, these dark stories saturated with hatred and vengeance are presented to us as entertainment in our films and TV shows. Then, there is dishonesty and exploitation…and unspeakable corruption everywhere. Mind-numbing chaos and turmoil that we are bombarded with every day.

    And, talking of our relationship with our environment and the larger ecology, we have consistently ignored the interrelatedness of all systems of life on earth. The result is the worsening environmental crisis of today. And yet, we refuse to see that our current human-centric attitude is flawed and untenable, resulting in rampant abuse of our environment, disregarding all scientific findings and dire warnings. It’s as though we are going along with a conditioned mind, as though sleepwalking through life.

    The time seems opportune now to ask pertinent questions.  Is corona virus a call from a higher power to wake us up from this mass, enigmatic slumber? A last-ditch effort to stop us being a slave hitched to our dysfunctional past and a covetous future? Is it a call to awaken us to our lost humanity? To make us realize that it’s only when we step out of our individual and collective egos and get rooted and centred in our own humaneness that a sense of safety and security, of balance and order and hopefully happiness and joy will enter our lives, and the world? Is it a message to prod and awaken us to the fact that beneath all our sense of lack, our struggles and fears and our constant mental noise, lies our common humanity, the goodness, the divine, hidden within each one of us?

    Arguably, is this pandemic also a result of nature hitting the ‘reset’ button, to take a much-needed breather, to restore itself? Indications of repair and renewal, various signs of restoration in nature, have lately come to light in different parts of the world after the virus hit—from plummeting air pollution levels to restoration of depleted ozone layer above the planet. An increase in bird population has been seen in different parts and wild animals have been found roaming free on streets deserted under lockdown. Nature is surely making the most of the situation; it is healing.  By a strange correlation, even people are being restored to health—outside the pandemic scenario that is. OPDs are closed in most hospitals, emergency wings are quieter, there’s been a dramatic reduction in wailing ambulance sirens on city streets, and more significantly, crematoriums and burial grounds have seen a remarkable reduction of up to 30 percent in daily arrival of corpses not related to coronavirus fatalities. Perchance if we see this connection, and dwell deeper on this phenomena, it should bring about a radical shift in humanity’s relationship to nature, it should force us to ask deeper, fundamental questions about the world we live in and our place in it, the truth about the very nature of life on earth, taking a holistic view rather than a narrow view of natural environment, where conservation only means legalised exploitation of nature by humans.

    Regardless of where we are today if our heart stirs with a sense of foreknowing as we raise these questions and connect to the truths that come up, we can perhaps create a revolution that should stop us on our destructive paths.

    Pragmatism and good sense tell us that if we, and the planet, are to survive we need to adopt a less dominating and hard-hitting posture towards other humans and towards the earth itself. We need to look beyond our restrictive, individual egos; our immediate family and concerns of daily living, to the well-being of the whole ecosphere; encompassing the plants, animals and the whole of the planet. Just as we wouldn’t harm ourselves, we cannot harm the planet either. Because in a very real sense, we all form a close-knit ecological community living together and interrelating on this specific habitat that is our planet.  We need to recognize that the balance and stability of planetary ecosystems is fundamental to our own survival. It calls for nothing less than a complete revamp of the way humans live on earth and our current world view.

    Such a revolution in our mass psyche should trigger a process of spiritual self-realisation through a connection to the spiritual forces that permeate our entire universe, even while it generates an intuitive, eco-centric perspective. Because when we are alert to the injuries of our world and allow ourselves to feel not only for other humans but also for our larger habitat, we open ourselves to a strength that comes from a connection to something more than just our narrow selves. Moving from a narrow, destructive version of the self to a wider identification with all sentient beings, and recognition of one’s part in a greater whole should usher in a much-needed order and healing into the current chaos. Because it combines metaphysical and ecological views of interrelatedness—that everything is connected to everything else—and quite possibly become a framework for human societies.

    We would ignore this dire warning at our own peril. Let’s not turn our backs to this propitious moment for deep introspection—and a likely transformation in our thoughts and beliefs.

    Our individual and collective destiny depends on the choices we make today. We are already creating changes on the earth by every choice and decision that we make, by each of the actions we take, even by each thought that we think. Let’s now take a collective pledge to make them positive and life supporting rather than damaging and destructive.

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    By: Akber Ayub
    Bangalore

     

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